By Harry Awurumibe, Head, Abuja Bureau
African champion, Super Falcons of Nigeria were on Thurdsay in Abidjan forced to a barren draw by host, Les Femelles Elephantes of Cote d’Ivoire in their Tokyo 2020 women’s football tournament African third round, first leg qualifying tie.
The encounter at the Parc des Sports de Treichville saw both teams creating several opportunities but failing to find the back of the net, with Nigeria’s captain, Asisat Lamina Oshoala spurning two excellent chances to win the match for Falcons.
Nigeria started the match with five defenders, two midfielders and three attackers in a formation Interim Coach Christopher Danjuma said ensured that his team attacked and defended against their opponents as a unit.
This formation meant that Chidinma Okeke and Glory Ogbonna played as right and left back respectively while veteran Osinachi Ohale and Mariam Ibrahim featured as central defenders.
Danjuma also introduced two midfielders in Ngozi Okobi-Okoghene and Amarachi Okoronkwo with both attack-minded players joining the three forward liners at will just as they fell back to help the defenders whenever the need arose.
Expectedly, former African Women’s Footballer of the Year Award winner, Oshoala who has assumed the captain’s role led the attack with speedstar, Francisca Ordega and youngster, Chinaza Uchendu operating from the wings.
However, youth international and Super Falcons’ undisputed number one goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie was again in superb form, thwarting the Ivorians and ensuring a respectable result for Nigeria ahead of the return leg at the Agege Stadium in Lagos on Monday, October 7.
Sadly, Nigeria’s midfielder Amarachi Okoronkwo was given the marching order in added time of the second half of the game after receiving a second yellow card.
The Nigeria delegation will return to Nigeria on Friday and the team will immediately begin preparation for the return leg encounter in Lagos.
Meanwhile, the Cote d Ivoire Head Coach, Clemintine Toure who had led Equatorial Guinea senior women’s football team to win the African Women’s Championship (AWC) now AWCON, could beat Nigeria in Abidjan as her team faces elimination in four days time in Lagos.
The winner of this tie will face the winner of the Cameroon/DR Congo tie in the fourth round of this Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Elsewhere, Cameroon defeated DR Congo 2–0 with goals from Meyong Meyene (28′) and Nchout Ajara (30′) respectively. A winning start for Cameroon amidst heavy downpour. ️ Return leg is billed for October 10 in Kinshasa
Also, Zambia had yesterday beaten Botswana1-0 with a superb goal fromMary Mwakapila while Ghana and Kenya will clash in Accra tomorrow.